Why is Mona Lisa so famous?

+40 votes
asked May 30, 2019 in Culture & Society by Jocelyn (780 points)
retagged Jun 17, 2019 by Kris
I have never understood what is so special about the painting of Mona Lisa. It’s just a portrait painting of a woman sitting on a chair, not even a famous woman for that matter. Nothing about her makes it stand out to me, yet it is featured in every art and France touring books. The only reason I can think of is that it was painted by Leonardo da Vinci.  Is there any other reasons why Mona Lisa is so famous?

1 Answer

+18 votes
answered Aug 6, 2019 by rashonda (1,250 points)
edited Aug 11, 2019 by Kris
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is the most notable painting in the world, one that held such a high cultural significance.  Its viewing attracted hordes of tourists from all countries every single day, securely displayed behind a thick bullet-resistant glass, and the room it’s placed in covered by cameras at all possible angles. No one knew for sure why the painting Mona Lisa is so famous and renowned either. The one usually cited is the smile of the Mona Lisa. Mystifying, enigmatic half-smile that have its meaning debated over the history. Some attribute it to Leonardo da Vinci’s sexual attraction to his mother, other describe it as innocent and inviting. Science has even tried to formulate why the smile itself is interpreted so differently by everyone, from the dynamic of the sitting position to the distance of the mouth and eye.

Then why is Mona Lisa so famous exactly? Actually, the painting does not receive the recognition she has today since its inception. While the painting has always been highly esteemed, owned by the lords and emperors of the old France kingdom, its international prominence only surfaces later. Walter Pater’s 1867 Leonardo da Vinci essay raised the popularity of the painting, turning it into a phenomenon, a painting Pater described as a cryptic beauty. The writing itself become the most well-known art criticism in the world. 50 years later in 1911, a Louvre museum employee, where the painting still resides until today, stole the painting off the wall. The theft became a major event that brought back the significance of Mona Lisa to the modern culture. Two years later, the culprit was caught attempting to sell the piece to Florence’s Uffizi museum, second famous after Louvre. Now the painting returned to where it belongs, it now attracts more crowd and studies than before, making it the most famous painting in the world. Almost a century later, the painting continues to retain its glory, undeserving to many, or an overly extensive publicity to others.
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